ALBANY PARK — Before a new indoor soccer facility opens, neighbors want to see an improved facade, better lighting and more parking.
The owners of Deportiva de Futbol, 3040 W. Lawrence Ave., are awaiting a business license hearing Friday, and heard from representatives from 33rd Ward Ald. Deb Mell’s office, the North River Commission, and two neighborhood associations earlier this week.
They asked questions of owners Carlos Cisneros, Eduardo Gonzalez, and Gonzalez’s wife, Noemi Trevino, and toured the facility Tuesday. They saw the field intended for practices and pickup games, a locker room area, an office, a spare room and restrooms.
Main concerns from those in attendance included the appearance of the outside of the building, and the facility’s painted-over windows — for the privacy of players, owners explained.
The field's layout has a wall that sits in front of the front entrance, a potential barrier that concerned Dana Fritz, chief of staff for Mell.
“There could be a bottleneck situation,” said Fritz.
The owners were encouraged to explore the neighborhood's special services area programs that assist business owners with building improvements.
“It’s a great program, especially for new businesses,” said Eric Filson, a member of the West River Park Improvement Association and the Albany Park Neighbors.
The special service area, which levies a special property tax to pay for services in the area, could also assist with safety issues like lighting, added Roya Mehrnoosh, president of the West River Park Improvement Association.
“We’re trying to encourage businesses to use it,” Mehrnoosh said. “The other thing that bothers me is that the windows are going to be all closed up. Maybe dress them up? Have some nice lighting? So it doesn’t look like the way they are now.”
The owners expressed interest in fixing the building, but worried about the upfront cost of doing so.
“We would love for this building to look way better,” Trevino said. “But it’s a work in progress.”
They are also eager to open soon and begin taking in revenue, after paying for the last few months’ rent without the facility being able to generate income.
“We’ve done what the city has asked, and we’ve been following their process,” Cisneros assured neighbors. “After six months, we couldn’t wait to get going. “
Amy Kozy, of the West River Park Neighbors, expressed concerns about parking.
“We do have a lot of parking trouble in this immediate neighborhood,” Kozy said.
Cisneros said that because the facility has indoor parking and because only so many people would need to park there at once, as time is booked by the hour, parking beyond what’s available on-site should not be needed.
Duka Dabovic, Special Service Area Manager for the North River Commission, voiced concern that the owners could get ahead of themselves with construction.
“I would love for this place to be open but we want to do this right,” he said. “We don’t want the city to come in and shut it down.”
Mehrnoosh seconded these sentiments.
“It’s all for safety,” she said. “It may be better than I think. But we want them to do the right process. We don’t want them to find out after the fact that it costs too much to make it legal to be open to the public.”
The owners remained optimistic and expect to move forward with plans, pending their Friday hearing.
“We put our life’s savings into this place, which we were saving for a home,” Trevino said. “We’re working on this.”
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